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What to do with our bass player?

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by Waynel, May 25, 2016.

  1. Waynel

    Waynel TDPRI Member

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    Been gigging for forty years (guitar). In a band with a bass player, dear friend of mine...and while he plays all the right notes and is right on time...he plays everything on his bass at the fifth and seventh frets. I mean he never plays below that, and never hits and open note. His rig is right next to mine and of course, in the position he plays, he's eating up all the midrange. I have a 100 watt Marshall and my master is past 12 o'clock and I'm three quarters up on midrange on the amp. The other guitar player is at other end of stage with a 50 watt amp at about nine o'clock and we hear him fine. To add to the problem...we have no bottom (bass) when we play.

    Now, my bass player buddy used to lay down a good bass in the pocket and would work up and down the neck, for dynamics but we think he's just basically gotten lazy and lives on the fifth fret. It's easy.

    How do we approach him about this without "hurting his feelings?" Again, he's a good bass player but he's just taking the easy way out at gigs (i.e. not working very hard). Besides the other lead guitar player and I concerned about this, but we just got a new drummer and at the first gig he asked us to turn up our guitars (all he's hearing is midrange, two guitars and a bass all playing in the same register).
     
  2. Chritty

    Chritty Tele-Afflicted

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    What is your full setup like? Is everything mic'ed? Are any of your speakers pointing at your head or just straight out? Is everyone using foldback monitoring?
     
  3. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Just take a pair of end nippers and rip out all the frets except the first four. Should take less than five minutes.
     
  4. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I don't see the problem with him playing everything at the 5th-7th fret, especially if it's not mostly on the G string. It's not like he's playing everything at the 12th fret.

    Maybe you really don't like the way he adjusts his amp?

    I play bass, rarely hit open notes, and play a lot in the middle of the neck, and there is plenty of bottom.
     
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  5. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

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    Boss OC-2?
     
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  6. allen082

    allen082 Friend of Leo's

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    When I play bass, I usually hang out between 5 and 12. But I'm just a crappy guitarist who occasionally poses as a bass player.
     
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  7. GroverRover

    GroverRover Tele-Meister

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    It sounds like maybe 2 issues...

    1st, I mostly agree with ac15, 5-7 fret expecially on the E,A,D strings still should have plenty of bottom, but it might not depending on how his amp is dialed in.

    2nd, lazy or complacent can live in any position, not just 5-7. Sometimes new arrangements, new material, different locations, etc can help stir up some creativity or inspiration.

    In either case, it might give you some perspective to record a set, and then give it an honest listen to see if you hear things the same when you are just listening, not playing. It's hard for me to describe, but I hear things differently when playing vs listening. For me, this applies to both the EQ/mix/amp/effects and the actual playing.
     
  8. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    When he isn't looking, remove the 5th, 6th and, 7th Frets.
     
  9. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    I actually really love that "5 and up" sound. Check out some videos of Gabriel Roth, AKA Bosco Mann, in the Dap Kings. It is a key component of their sound for me. I wish I DIDN'T rely so much on open notes when playing bass.

    I'm wondering if it's not so much a problem with where he's playing, but what he's playing. If he's just sitting on the chord roots the whole time with no passing notes or minor thirds, then, yeah, that would bother me, too.

    Scott
     
  10. BenM

    BenM Tele-Meister

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    If he's lazy, just convince him that playing open notes means he doesn't have to use his left hand at all. You just increased his capacity for laziness 50%!
     
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  11. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Bass can get real muddy in the 1st position, he's probably just trying to hear some definition in what he's playing.
     
  12. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    .... from now on, bass solo, every song.....!
     
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  13. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I think the band should start lightly teasing him about it. Maybe he will surprise you.
     
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  14. johnnyha

    johnnyha Tele-Afflicted

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    Reverse psychology might work. You gotta ask what would Andy Griffith do to get Barney to play bass better, without hurting his feelings? He would start complimenting him on his bass playing, and get everyone in on it, like Floyd's going "Everyone's been talking about your bass playing Barney, ohh yes, yes. Little more off the back?" and pretty soon Barney's confidence would swell up and he'd start ripping all over the fretboard. Well at least that's how it works in the show. I mean if Barney played bass. Not sure about that but Andy played guitar.
     
  15. nicholaspaul

    nicholaspaul Tele-Meister

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    Can you make light of the issue and ask him why he plays that way? If you can have a light hearted chat rather than an intervention you might hear (!) his side of the story.
     
  16. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe work on bass levels and tone with him for a better overall mix. Also, the guitars might need to work out of higher positions.
     
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  17. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Approach it from a technical point of view so it won't hurt his feelings. Just ask if he could play at a lower position on the neck so that your overall sound has more clarity and punch. Mention that it just sounds more powerful when he plays the lower notes. Make a positive out of it.
     
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  18. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Although if all your songs are in A, B, C and D, it kind of makes sense to play there.
     
  19. Iron Broadsword

    Iron Broadsword Tele-Meister

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    IMHO a direct, man to man conversation is the best. "hey man, you need to stop stepping on my zone". Do it without making him feel like a terrible bassist, but just let him know. Anything else is a cowardly way to do it and shows lack of respect as well.. this goes back to leadership skills. Remember to not be a douche about it because you are telling somebody how to play their instrument. Imagine if the drummer said you need to only play below the 12th fret cause you were drowning out his crash. (Just slap him, right?)

    If he refuses then he is choosing to not work for the betterment of the band, in which case you either slap an OC-2 on his signal if he agrees like Anode said, or you give him a hard time about it and if that keeps up kick him out if it matters that much to you.

    It's probably just a different styles thing.. A rock bassist will pound those low notes and it sounds great with big power chording, but a jazz guy is all over the place. What kind of band are you in? Do you have the right bassist for the band? Figure out what you are and glue your whole band to that style. The result is a better band, every time.

    Great idea here.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
  20. Grabsplatter

    Grabsplatter Tele-Holic

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    Can someone actually explain why his playing is a problem? Old style bass players rarely ventured below bottom A, and I don't hear anyone slating them. As an example, The Kinks. The bass only ventures below guitar pitch during the choruses. Can anyone tell me how that is ruining the sound?



    I know bass players that avoid open strings like the plague because they sound different from fretted notes, which is a fair point. Maybe that is why he doesn't play them.

    You say he used to play all the way up and down the neck, but now you think he's got "lazy". Might he have just decided to stop overplaying?

    If he's "eating up all the midrange", that is a EQ issue. This bassline is hardly "how low can you go?", but it's hardly "eating up all the midrange".

     
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